Even in times of lightweight design solutions, metal remains a pivotal material, the machining and assembling of which has to become increasingly more efficient using automation.
AUTOMATICA 2012, which will take place on the grounds of the New Munich Trade Fair Centre from 22 to 25 May, will show current trends of assembly and handling technology, robotics and industrial machine vision. For example, robots are being developed to work more and more closely with machine tools to increase their efficiency or handle tasks of CNC machining themselves.
Modern machine tools run at such a speed during machining that the auxiliary times, e.g., loading and unloading, are becoming increasingly important for total performance. Robots are providing the needed acceleration here. Various robot manufacturers are presenting such solutions and can record substantial growth in this segment.
In addition to speeding up work, the link between robot systems and machine tools can also enable completely automatic operation without the involvement of people. Two concepts are above all being pursued for automating tool machines: on one hand, the integration of a robot into the machine tool, and on the other hand the complete automation module including robot on the machine.
Only robust robots can work in machine tools
New robot concepts are mainly being exhibited at the trade fair for integration of robots in machine tools that can cope with the adverse ambient operating conditions of shavings, grinding dust, coolants and other corrosive media.
Teams of robots and machine vision systems also contribute to the efficiency of automation "behind" machine tools. For example, they handle tasks of quality control, but also take care of further processing and finishing of workpieces.
CNC machining is also becoming more widespread, in which inexpensive robot solutions take the place of expensive 5-axis CNC machines. To this end, manufacturers have developed the stability in robots required for machining the hardest materials. Servo stabilizers are mounted on individual robot axes in part to accomplish this. They promise reproducible machining, during which the required dimensional tolerances are maintained. In addition, improved control technologies are provided, which are based on CNC-controlled movement planning.
Machine vision now also monitors aluminum weld seams
Together, robots and industrial machine vision are providing increasingly more optimized positioning solutions, for example for welding operations. For example, companies from machine vision at AUTOMATICA are presenting complete systems for robot position control, which enable precisely positioning attachment parts or tools in relation to a workpiece. In doing this, all position errors of the robot are corrected and highly accurate positioning is achieved.
Quality inspections of weld seams are also becoming increasingly more precise and faster thanks to machine vision.
This task has already been handled reliably for workpieces made of steel for quite some time. Now, new technologies are making it possible to monitor weld seams of the optically more demanding material aluminum, which is also becoming increasingly important due to the lightweight construction trend. Because extreme reflections and dark deposits are customary, optical sensors were previously unable to handle this task. At AUTOMATICA 2012, you can now see new sensors that can also cope with aluminum requirements thanks to higher dynamics, greater depth of focus and improved evaluation software.
Finishing is being automated
The tasks of machine vision with weld seams are increasingly going beyond the simple decision "IO" or "NIO". The sensors can even detect the type, extent and location of the welding defect precisely in the meantime and consequently provide completely automated finishing. To that end, different sensor systems and highly complex evaluation systems are combined.
Surface inspection is becoming increasingly important not just from aesthetic viewpoints, but also from functional ones. Surface defects on cylinder head gaskets can result in breakdowns later, for example. Machine vision provides complex inspection systems for this with special test software, customized lighting and high-resolution line-scanning cameras.
In addition, the image sensors are becoming increasingly mobile. They can simply be mounted on robots and equipped with robot-capable gigabit Ethernet lines, which can cope with high stress on one hand and on the other hand provide higher transfer rates.
Handle and mount faster and more flexibly
Increasingly higher speeds and greater flexibility despite increasing automation in metalworking are pivotal requirements for assembly and handling technology. The industry is responding to this at AUTOMATICA with increasingly fast and more compact pick-and-place solutions, among other things. Feeding systems are going to be exhibited, which are suitable for very different parts thanks to the individual combination of robotics, linear systems, modern gripping technology and intelligent machine vision. Adaptable assembly systems are also responding to the need for flexibility, which make it possible simply to increase capacity with growing volume, but which can also be used for semi-automatic assembly.
International Trade Fair for Automation and Mechatronics
AUTOMATICA is the first and only international trade fair, which covers all areas of robotics + automation every two years. It has taken place on the grounds of the New Munich Trade Fair Centre every two years since 2004. The aim of the fair is to present the entire value-added chain in robotics and automation. Messe München GmbH and VDMA Robotik + Automation, trade fair industry advisor, are behind the industry-driven concept of AUTOMATICA. Exhibitor and visitor statistics for AUTOMATICA are audited by an independent auditor for the order of the Gesellschaft zur Freiwilligen Kontrolle von Messe- und Ausstellungszahlen (Society for Voluntary Control of Fair and Exhibition Statistics) and internationally by UFI (Global Association of the Exhibition Industry).